Friday, August 07, 2015

Our Brother Bob Anderson

Our brother Bob was number seven from a family of eleven brothers and sisters. We grew up in a small rambler in a new housing development in White Bear Lake with wide open fields across the street. It was common at that time for kids to leave home at the crack of dawn and not return until dinner time and Bob would take off on foot or on his bike every morning to explore the world. He was a regular boy, catching animals and bringing them home to observe – or in the case of snakes, bringing them home to tease us.

Our father started his own company and we moved to Rapid City South Dakota for a few years – keeping our home in WBL too. Bob was about thirteen at this time and I believe his love of birds started from exploring the Black Hills Mountain Range. I know that he also carried a small shotgun too because one time he returned home and told me he was attacked on a cliff by a large bird and he had to shoot to scare it – creating a hole in his gun case. He said he came real close to falling that day but of course that didn’t stop his love of exploring -he was back out there the very next day.

We returned back to WBL and Bob started a friendship with Bob Duerr – who was with Como Zoo. Injured animals soon found their way to our small rambler with the big fenced yard and one that I remember was an eagle, maybe a Golden Eagle with a broken wing. That eagle could outrun a rabbit and it was hard for us young kids to watch the kill but Bob said everyone needs to eat. We called that eagle Tom Dooley – after the Kingston Trio song Tom Dooley because even with a broken wing he was capable of hopping up on the fence, and would put its head on your shoulder. Bob Duerr also got Bob starring roles on the Lunch with Casey kid’s show which was very cool!

It was also at this time that Bob started bringing home the birds. We had a small room in our home, a kind of scary room we called the “back room”. This is where we stored our coats and boots and things and this is also the room Bob took over for his birds. So, you can only imagine how super scary it was to open that door to get a coat, not only knowing what would come flying out at you, but also wondering just how much bird poop it would contain!

He moved onto to Hawks and I remember several Red-Tails and also a beautiful Goshawk that he let me hold one day and it got lose. We chased that bird down for hours and finally got it back. Bob got a Volkswagen van and from then on was known as the Bird Man as he always had a bird in the back. One place he lived in was with another animal lover so there were snakes and spiders in cases everywhere and an alligator greeted you from the tub!

Bob loved flying his birds and learned everything he could about Birds of Prey – especially the Peregrine Falcon. His farm house in Hugo was always filled with fellow falconers sharing their love of birds. He worked for the Science Museum of Minnesota for a while and it was about this time that he married and they had a son Jeremy. To support his family – he tried to put his love of birds on hold and took a job with 3M but his passion was too big to control.

Around this time falcons were starting to die off and it was discovered that the pesticide DDT was to blame. DDT usage was poisoning the adult birds and causing the eggs to have very thin shells. The Peregrines were becoming extinct. So in the 1970’s DDT was banned and Bob and friends like Mark Bolton started attempting to artificial inseminate the birds. Bob would stay up many nights for months manually turning the eggs – replicating what nature would normally do. The process was successful and the first babies that were born were really something to celebrate! I do admit that I loved the look on our family’s faces when they first saw these newly hatched baby birds– not the prettiest for sure! The release birds found their way onto tall buildings and structures and luckily there was no fear of heights with Bob as he scaled buildings and cliffs to provide nest boxes and ban them for tracking purposes.

Our brother received so many National Awards but he always downplayed the recognition. Our eldest sister Pat tried to start a scrapbook and very quickly ran out of pages – Bob was everywhere. Bob was a humble man – and always quick to point out that his success were not his own. It was the contributions from so many others that made the projects successful – including the Eagle Cam. We, Bob’s family, are very happy that we were able to share our brother that we loved so much with all of you.

JoAnn Anderson


Perleys said...

Thank you so much for sharing Bob and his life story with all of us! Our prayers are with you in this time. Thanks, Sandy Perley

oma sawyer said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your BOB;our BOB with us. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bob, but as Carol Messina said " His efforts have changed my life in immeasurable ways as well as so many others. I will be honoring and remembering Bob during today's Celebration of his Life. My prayers are with you and your family for peace and comfort at this time. I will never forget your amazing brother Bob."

Too many tears while here so I had to copy Carol; I, to feel as though I have lost a brother; a kind, caring, gentle man. Bob Anderson, and my heart goes out to all of you and I am certain that the Celebration of Bob's Life will comfort you.


lcrn1943 said...

Thank you to Bob for bringing such an awareness of God's creation: birds. I have always liked birds, but several years ago a friend showed me the eagle cam, and I've been hooked on eagles since then. Had it not been for him, I am quite sure many people would have little awareness of these magnificent raptors. And of course there are the falcons he rescued from extinction. What wonderful service and what a wonderful life. I did not have the privilege of meeting Bob, but the day I spent in Decorah at the hatchery a month ago, I felt his presence and work. I know the celebration of life for Bob will be wonderful. To you, his family, keep those memories of your loved one alive in your hearts. We will never forget the awesome work he has done. Peace, comfort and hugs.

Boosty Malay said...

I thank Bob for opening a whole new world to me, the world of raptors. As a result I have a newly found love of eagles and other birds of prey, and an appreciation for the fragility of their lives. I never met Bob but somehow, through pictures and messages, feel that he was a very generous and sensitive man. Thank you for your post. I'm sorry for your family's loss. May it comfort you to know that Bob leaves behind a legacy like no other.

Di Brown said...

Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful story of Bob's life! Whenever I see a raptor soaring, I will be thinking of the "Bird Man".

kdavisrunt said...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us <3 I had the pleasure of meeting him and speaking with him during my visits to Decorah. He meant so much to so many people and we are all thankful for his love of birds and for teaching us so much. God bless you and give you comfort.

TellerofNHtales said...

I am so saddened by the loss of Bob, but as I read the blogs and watch the video of his life I am in awe of a man who got to live his life doing what he loved most. Not many people will be able to reflect upon their own lives and be able to say that about themselves.

For that those that knew him, if only through enjoying his wonderful work, we should be grateful. I will miss him and although we never met feel that my life has been enriched for having had the privilege of witnessing Bob living his passion.

Pam Lord, Farmington, NH

wanda sutton said...

Many thanks would never be enough for sharing Bob's early life and the passion he had even then. I have just rounded the bend in the creek near me and see the pair of BES near me here on the east coast. It is a little after nest time here. As tears flow I am grateful for Bob Anderson and his vision that reached around the world. He forged the trail and we must go forward with conviction. Thank you for sharing your brother with all of us.
I will always be looking up and think of Bob when I do. Wanda Sutton (bluebirday)

RuthMItchell said...

Thank you so much for giving us this window into Bob's life, thank you for sharing him with us so generously.
His was certainly a life well lived...he was blessed to be able to follow his passion and to fill that "dash" between his birth and his home-going with so much that was really worth while, that will effect this world for generations to come. And to think of the millions of lives that he has touched through his Decorah Eagle Cam!!! I know he had absolutely no idea how huge it would become when he first climbed that tree to put that camera on that tree, but we are SO glad that he did it!!!
Your brother has opened my heart to so many things. I was always a lover of nature but he gave it DIRECTION!!! I now volunteer with a local Rescue and Rehabilitation here in Florida and I am proud to say that I am giving back to his precious Raptors in some small way.
I have also made precious friends from across the United States that I know I will be friends with forever and ever. None of it would have happened with one man...Bob Anderson...with a passion that he just couldn't shake!!!
God bless you Bob...until we meet again

Barb said...

Thank you for sharing the history of Bob's love for birds from the beginning. I did have the chance to meet him a few years ago and speak with him a few times on the phone. He was such a dedicated, caring, patient, gentle, and humble man. Please know that thousands of us would love to be there in person to share in Bob's Celebration of Life. Although that is not physically possible for most of us, I can say for certain that many thousands of us are thinking and remembering him today as if we were physically in Decorah. Bob passion, dedication, and work affected both raptors and humans alike in a way that can not be put in words. He is testimony that one man can truly made a difference. Not many of us can say that. May all of these thoughts and prayers from around the world comfort you as you celebrate Bob's life.
God Bless, Barb from Delaware

Darrel & Linda Ferguson said...

Dear Anderson family,
Thank you for sharing Bob with all of us who love our beautiful raptors. He's been an important part of my last few years as I got sick and watching the eagles kept me from ending up in a wheelchair. It taught me it was okay to have a bad year and to go on with a cause. I have pictures from Dechorah hanging on my walls and have probably bored anyone who asked about them with all the knowledge I've gained from Bob, RRP and all the moderators and all the other bird watchers from around the world.

farmerinthedell said...

Dear Anderson Family,

Thank you for allowing Bob to follow his love of birds of prey. Thank you for sharing his life history with us. My heart goes out to each and everyone of you. Many blessings

Patty Kugel said...

Thank you for sharing a part of Bob's boyhood and how he got to where he was working with birds of prey. I too have had a love for birds since I was little but not until I started watching the eaglecam of the Decorah eagles did I realize I had a passion for birds of prey. I have Bob to thank for that! It has opened a new world to me in that I now volunteer at a nature center and share the passion I have of these beautiful birds. And of course, I tell them about Decorah!

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Patty from Georgia

Debbie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story about Bob with all of us. He was truly a wonderful, kind man. He touched so many lives near and far across the globe. He truly changed the world. God Bless your family and peace to all of you.
Debbie Kostolansky

Nora H said...

To Bob's family,

I was at Bob's celebration today at the Hatchery. It was truly wonderful and I thank you, his family, for sharing your brother with us in your time of grief. He was someone that followed their dream and succeeded, more than he maybe intended or thought was possible, but he had so many great experiences besides his raptor success.

One of the first things I noticed about him at the first peregrine banding I went to was the way his eyes lit up when he talked about the falcons (foremost) and other raptors. He could show such excitement and it was contagious. He is definitely going to be missed and I'm glad to hear the RRP crew will carry on and finish anything he had started or talked of getting done in the future.

He'll never be forgotten, Nora Hensley
Bob's family, he will always be in your hearts and memories..........

Judy P said...

I never met Bob but he has made me grow. I am very saddened by his death. I appreciate a bios of his life. Thank you for sharing. My sincere condolences.

Ladihawke said...

Thank you for sharing your brother with the world. I started watching the Eagle Cam at Decorah about 4 years ago. What a blessing your brother brought us. I know the loss you feel is overwhelming. God Bless and my deepest condolences.

Dec said...

I really appreciated this look inside your family during the early years. It's neat to know a little more about Bob's background. My prayers are with your family as you work through this loss. Thanks so much for sharing!

Kate Simpson said...

My deepest condolences to the Anderson family. Your presence with all of us "eagleholics" at the Hatchery on Saturday was very special. Thank you so much for sharing Bob's early years with us. He was a very unique person. Prayers continue for everyone who knew him. He is flying with his raptors.

jtrout2, Wisconsin Rapids, WI.